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AP+US+History

AP US History

It is hard to believe that we are just two weeks away from the holiday break and even more mind boggling that students have already begun to submit their scheduling proposals for next year. Many underclassmen are trying to load up on AP courses to appeal to colleges and to amplify resumes. However, a big concern for any upcoming junior is whether or not they should take AP US History. Through my own experience in the class and through the eyes of my fellow peers, as well as some advice from the APUSH teacher herself, Mrs. Catalano, I hope that I can help future juniors be a bit more informed with their decision whether you take the class or not.

 

Before I dive deep into the nitty gritty details and opinions of the class, here is a quick summary of who would be fit for this class:

 

  • You would like APUSH if… you have a good work ethic or would like to improve upon your current one. With homework assignments that take an average of 45 minutes to one-and-a-half- hours every night, work ethic will have a large impact on your grades and will be significantly enhanced.
  • You would NOT like APUSH if… you know that your time management skills are not up to par and do not want to be bogged down with even more more schoolwork during a time characterized by the large workload and SAT/ACT prep.

 

 

Though it is only three months into the school year, I can easily say APUSH is one of my favorite classes. If you are interested in becoming a history teacher, like me, I highly recommend this class. Mrs. Catalano mentions the importance of students who are aiming for post secondary education “to take as many AP courses as they can reasonably handle” and that taking such courses will “develop the skills and study habits that will be useful” later on in life.

Time management skills are essential for junior year because you will need to delegate a large chunk of your afternoon/evening just for homework. “What you put in is what you get out” is especially true for this class. One tip I hope you find useful in this class, and many others, is that instead of writing a bunch of information down and giving yourself hand-cramps, you can either use the notes app on your smartphone, or install the Google Docs app, and speak your notes and answers into your phone so you can get more answers down in half as much time. The only drawback is the errors your phone makes when interpreting what you say, so make sure to clearly articulate whatever it is you are saying. And if you do not want to fix it at that time, just switch over to the Google Doc on your laptop and fix the typos there manually.

At this point in the year, tests are full of document analysis or short-answer questions and essay writing. “Any student who has already taken either AP Euro or AP World should be able to to move on to APUSH fairly easily, especially now that all three courses have the same format in terms of the ‘historical thinking skills’ they work to develop,” according to Mrs. Catalano. And if for whatever reason your grades start to slip in this class, Mrs. Catalano is always looking out for your best interests as she always offers quiz corrections, counts your homework average twice if it’s 90+, and occasionally offers short-answer/DBQ re-writes and test corrections.

Also, APUSH is a great transition for those making the jump from Honors Social Studies classes to AP. Mrs. Catalano reassures the students who do decide in favor of the more advanced course, they will “get the hang of it pretty quickly as long as they are willing to put the work in.” Fellow junior, Nicole Brigante, can testify as she took Honors Global II last year and has made the transition to APUSH who in the beginning felt “overwhelmed” but kept the class and “now [she] enjoy[s] it.” Multiple students wanted to give their take on the class and all contributed positive reviews. Brenda Mendez notes the “AP exam is the exact same format as the AP Euro exam” and emphasizes that you will need to “SERIOUSLY manage your time.” She can not help but add “Mrs. Catalano, a.k.a. ‘T-Cat’ is the bomb.” Brooke Decker points out “everything will fall into place” if you put in the time required to do your work properly. Finally, GSO President, Kristen Coletti, ventures  APUSH will be the “epitome of your Whitman experience,” claiming the “work is totally worth it and Mrs. Catalano is a goddess.”

Ultimately, you are the one who make the final decision, but hopefully these first hand accounts from students, as well as advice from your potentially future teacher, will help solidify your decision, whether it be to take this class or to select another. Just keep in mind that this class is demanding, like any other AP class in this school, so do not select it haphazardly for the sake of the AP label on your transcript. Regardless of your decision, make sure your own personal interests and goals are guiding your choice, that you do not spread yourself too thin, and that you are getting the most out of your high school experience.

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